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1.6 History

Richard M. Stallman invented the Texinfo format, wrote the initial processors, and created Edition 1.0 of this manual. Robert J. Chassell greatly revised and extended the manual, starting with Edition 1.1. Brian Fox was responsible for the standalone Texinfo distribution until version 3.8, and originally wrote the standalone makeinfo and info programs. Karl Berry continued maintenance from Texinfo 3.8 (manual edition 2.22), and Gavin Smith has continued maintenance since Texinfo 6.0.

Our thanks go out to all who helped improve this work, particularly the indefatigable Eli Zaretskii and Andreas Schwab, who have provided patches beyond counting. François Pinard and David D. Zuhn, tirelessly recorded and reported mistakes and obscurities. Zack Weinberg did the impossible by implementing the macro syntax in texinfo.tex. Thanks to Melissa Weisshaus for her frequent reviews of nearly similar editions. Dozens of others have contributed patches and suggestions, they are gratefully acknowledged in the ChangeLog file. Our mistakes are our own.


In the 1970’s at CMU, Brian Reid developed a program and format named Scribe to mark up documents for printing. It used the @ character to introduce commands, as Texinfo does. Much more consequentially, it strove to describe document contents rather than formatting, an idea wholeheartedly adopted by Texinfo.

Meanwhile, people at MIT developed another, not too dissimilar format called Bolio. This then was converted to using TeX as its typesetting language: BoTeX. The earliest BoTeX version seems to have been 0.02 on October 31, 1984.

BoTeX could only be used as a markup language for documents to be printed, not for online documents. Richard Stallman (RMS) worked on both Bolio and BoTeX. He also developed a nifty on-line help format called Info, and then combined BoTeX and Info to create Texinfo, a mark up language for text that is intended to be read both online and as printed hard copy.

Moving forward, the original translator to create Info was written (primarily by RMS and Bob Chassell) in Emacs Lisp, namely the texinfo-format-buffer and other functions. In the early 1990s, Brian Fox reimplemented the conversion program in C, now called makeinfo.

Reimplementing in Perl

In 2012, the C makeinfo was itself replaced by a Perl implementation generically called texi2any. This version supports the same level of output customization as texi2html, an independent program originally written by Lionel Cons, later with substantial work by many others. The many additional features needed to make texi2html a replacement for makeinfo were implemented by Patrice Dumas. The first never-released version of texi2any was based on the texi2html code.

That implementation, however, was abandoned in favor of the current program (also written by Patrice Dumas), which parses the Texinfo input into a tree for processing. It inherited the design of customization and other features from texi2html (for more on texi2html compatibility, see texi2html: Ancestor of texi2any). However, texi2any is a full reimplementation: it constructs a tree-based representation of the input document for all back-ends to work from.

The new Perl program is much slower than the old C program. The speed gap has partially closed since first release, but it may not ever be entirely comparable. So why did we switch? In short, we intend and hope that the present program will be much easier than the previous C implementation of makeinfo to extend to different output styles, back-end output formats, and all other customizations. In more detail:

texi2any is intended to be a reference implementation that defines parts of the language not fully specified by the manual. Without such a reference, alternative implementations would be very likely to have subtle, or not-so-subtle, differences in behavior, and thus Texinfo documents would become dependent on the processor. It is also important to have consistent command-line options for all processors. Extensive tests of the language and processor were developed at the same time as texi2any; we encourage anyone thinking of writing a program to parse Texinfo input to make use of these tests.

With the release of texi2any as the reference implementation, development of both the C implementation of makeinfo and texi2html has been halted. Going forward, we ask authors of Texinfo documents to use only texi2any.

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